Dear mission partners, friends, brothers and sisters in Christ,
Here we are, just like most of the world right now under quarantine. This is week four for us. Christen and I have had to go out several times, but the children have not gone much further than the yard. But we praise God that everyone in our family is pretty healthy right now, besides the underlying issues we already know of. God has been very kind and gracious to us.
The church here has also been forced to communicate online (those that can)as many others are, or through a phone call. But the situation here is getting urgent pretty quickly. Although there have been deaths due to Covid-19 and cases near us, what has been worse than the virus itself has been the mandatory lockdown. The curfew here begins early, at 5pm, and many of even the essential places of business are closing early. That is causing all kinds of serious problems.
Seeing what was happening all around us, and speaking to brothers from other parts of the island, we realized how many people were already out of food and in need. Since we are plugged into a network of churches here, we are joining their efforts to help some poor and struggling Dominican and Haitian churches, many that are in difficult and isolated places. But we are also doing our part on the local level in the two communities (Hato Mayor, San Jose Las Minas) that we are working in. We hope to help other local churches we know of in and around Santiago, and in the next few days be able to send some help towards the national effort. Pray that the Lord would provide for us to do so and help as much as possible.
We are seeing many opportunities that the Lord is giving us through this difficult situation. Just a few days ago, I was able to purchase a large amount of basic food items. We also had a few boxes of soaps and shampoo that was donated to give away. So our family was able to put together some decent care packages for 40 families.
Pastor Victor and I loaded up the mission van the next morning to begin distribution. We covered a lot of ground and still were able to make it home before curfew. I went out again near our home, and again with Christen yesterday to some people who were a little farther away. Everyone received eggs, rice, beans, sugar, milk, oil, tomato paste, sardines, salami, corn flour, seasonings, soap, shampoo and a very good Gospel tract. We had several opportunities to share the Gospel with unbelievers. Please pray for those who heard the Gospel, and for those who read the tracts they received.
We definitely heard some heartbreaking stories along the way from several people who have families but don’t have anything to eat during this time and are stuck home unable to work. Many of these people live hand to mouth as it is, so this lockdown has been the hardest on them. Their homes are tiny, many in bad conditions, and it would be impossible for them to go out and stock up like many of us can.
We are thankful for the opportunity to serve the Lord and fellow image bearers, and pray that the Lord would bring life through the seeds that were sown along the way. We are thankful for God’s provision through our mission partners that made this possible. We have seen people come to Christ in the past through difficulties such as this. It was through the preaching of the Gospel of course, but God worked through the difficult circumstances to humble people, which created an opportunity to help them and share the Gospel with them. We pray that many more would learn to number their days, seeing their sin, and the frailty of their existence and turn to Christ for forgiveness during these times. Pray for us and those we come in contact with.
A supporting church recently helped us to purchase some new equipment we have been needing for our open air preaching ministry. I am currently working on a message for that but prefer to memorize the general message and do that kind of preaching without notes and be prepared to engage with onlookers. People are just sitting in their homes, their front porches and some even still gather on the street corners in the barrios. Pray for me, that the Lord would use those efforts despite my weaknesses, and that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the Gospel. Pray for those who will hear, that they may turn and be saved and that we can follow up with them as well.
We can already see how God is using the quarantine in our personal lives too, as we spend more time together as a family. We have time to think and reflect on many things as we do some self-examination and refocusing. We are reminded of God’s grace, the work of the church to proclaim the Good News and to help the needy and all that we have to be thankful for.
In spite of all the bad news and suffering, we do see God being glorified. Some churches that do have some resources are reaching out to help smaller churches. Some are already are working together and seeking to help bring relief to their own people. A few Christians have taken to the streets, others the internet, proclaiming the Gospel and more involved in their communities than before. Others are being humbled as their worlds are now crumbling before their eyes, and they are forced to reconsider their priorities. This is making some people seemingly more receptive to the things of God.
Although we are distanced from each other for a time, we still have opportunities to teach, encourage and bring comfort to the church here. I recently recorded message in Spanish that was shared to many people, and we have done bible studies with those able to connect. We stay updated daily as to how the church is doing, especially those who are at high risk and poor brothers and sisters.
Recently I had the privilege of sharing a message and update of the ministry with a church via video call. Lord willing, we will do the same with another church this coming Sunday. We’d be more than happy to take advantage of this time to do the same with other churches, families and friends who support us. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we can arrange a date that works for both sides. We would love to connect and be able to update friends and mission partners this way.
We are still teaching English, although virtually now. Our kids are all finishing their school year online too. Many other plans have sadly been put on hold fro now, and I have also had difficulty communicating with Leonel in Haiti. This has us pretty concerned, although this has happened before when his phone broke or has had issues. But with the border closed, and now being unable to reach him at all, we ask that you please pray for Leonel, his family and the churches there. I hope to be able to speak with him soon.
Other prayer requests:
Pray that we would stay healthy. We aren’t good to anyone if we get sick. But we can’t just sit home when we are able to help people who really need it. We are taking all the necessary safety precautions possible.
Pray for Christen and Tonito and Yeison. Since the quarantine, their follow-up doctor appointments have been cancelled until further notice. They are fine for now, but we are a bit anxious to see if the medication have helped to shrink a growth on Christen’s thyroid. If not, she was supposed to get it biopsied. That has been put on hold for now.
Pray for Christen’s father (Ed) and a visa for Yeison. Christen’s father has end stage coronary heart disease and Lewy Body Dementia among other things. He also became sick recently with fever, and though he tested negative for Covid-19, he does has E. Coli, sepsis and some other infection. Back in February they gave him 3-6 months to live. Now we are concerned he may have less than that. Only God knows. But we made another appointment and requested an emergency visa for Yeison to travel with us. Pray that he will get approved this time.
Pray for me as I continue teaching and preaching online and in the streets. Pray that lost souls would turn from their sin and throw themselves upon the mercy of God in Christ and be saved. Pray for the saints to be edified, challenged, comforted and encouraged. Pray that this situation would cause others to rise up to serve as never before. The harvest is ripe and plentiful but the laborers are still few.
Pray that we will continue to be able to continue working as we have been. With the negative economic impact that the quarantine has had on so many, there is a real concern as to what our ministry may look like in the coming months. We live and work through the generous giving of the saints back home. We trust in the Lord and continue to work as much as possible, but we do ask that you pray.
Pray for the Lord to bring on new mission partners too. Pray that He will move others to walk alongside of us in prayer and giving during this time. We will continue to do what we can for as long as we can, but we will need help and ask you to pray for us, and about partnering with us.
There is much more we could share, but to avoid this update from being too long, we will leave it at that for now. You can see more frequent updates and prayer requests for the ministry and our family at Salgado DR Mission on Facebook. Thank you again for your faithful prayers and giving towards this ministry that allow us to do what we do, preach the Gospel and make disciples, to the glory of God. Those who pray for and give to missions, play a part just as important as the missionary on the field. Thank you and God bless.
In service to our Lord and King,
Antonio Salgado Jr.